LABA 2021 Application
Application Deadline is Monday, November 16 at midnight.
LABA Application Form
LABA: A Laboratory for Jewish Art and Culture is a non-religious house of study at the 14th Street Y. Its goal is to function as an international incubator for creativity. LABA aims to push the boundaries of what Jewish art can be and what Jewish texts can teach.
Every year LABA selects a group of ten fellows to join us for a yearlong study of classical Jewish texts centered around a theme. Through our study, we engage with the stories of the Bible and classical Rabbinic texts as if they were new. We also fold in secular literature, as well as music and art, to help us better see both the timeless and radical elements of these sacred texts.
A central focus of LABA is to present Judaism’s rich literary and intellectual tradition in an open and creatively fertile setting, so that these texts and ideas may serve as inspiration for the fellows’ art and ideas. The work inspired by the study appears in LABA events and online in the LABA Journal.
LABA’s home is the 14th Street Y in New York City’s East Village. The setting provides our fellows the opportunity to engage deeply with the Y community, our neighborhood and the New York theater and art world through installations, gallery shows, workshops, performances, presentations and panel discussions presented throughout the Y and in our convertible Black Box Theater.
ABOUT THIS YEAR’S THEME
The LABA theme for 2021 is CHOSE-N.
Chosenness sounds like an ancient, archaic, concept that stands in sharp contrast with our contemporary claim that all humans were created “special”. But is that really so? Does not the book of Genesis, the foundational myth of our monotheistic civilization, tell us that Abel, Adam’s son, was the chosen over Cain, his brother? Do we not recognize, in spite of ourselves and our cultural conditioning, that some of us are more inspired, have a greater potential and a more dramatic calling? Is our artistic journey, like all other human endeavors, really comprised of one percent inspiration and ninety nine percent perspiration, or is it more correctly described by the cruel words of the great Zero Mostel: “Or you have it, or you don’t”?
This year at LABA we will contemplate the various ways in which our culture dealt with chosenness throughout its long history, and study an array of Jewish texts, both ancient and contemporary, that ponder chosenness in myriad contexts from the tangible to the intangible. From marginalization to the inequality of destiny, Superman myths to the daunting choices past, present, and future, including this year’s impending national election, we will delve into and explore our ancient text and modern tomes. Most importantly, we will have a great time studying, drinking and creating art together in the lush, fertile, free-flowing, romantic, super-serious and endlessly playful environment of LABA: A Laboratory for Jewish Culture.
ABOUT OUR FELLOWS
We are seeking artists and culture-makers from any creative field: fellows have included choreographers, performers, curators, visual artists, bakers, directors, composers, writers, film-makers, clowns, comedians and fashion designers. We do not limit our categories: we encourage everyone from puppeteers and chefs to architects and tight-rope walkers to apply.
No previous knowledge of Jewish texts is required for fellows, nor will previous knowledge of Jewish texts lessen one’s chances of becoming a fellow. What is required is a desire to study these texts in an intellectually rigorous, non-religious setting.
This LABA season runs January to December 2021, with summer months focused on developing your LABA project. While our current cohort of LABA Fellows has shifted into virtual gatherings and performances due to the pandemic, we do hope to resume in person when congregating as a community is allowed. We are leaving open the possibility of a virtual fellowship though for some, or all, of the fellowship cycle.
During the season, fellows are required to:
• Join us for ten study and engagement sessions virtually, at the 14th Street Y, or around New York City (usually once a month on Monday or Tuesday evenings).
• Participate in a day-long retreat (date to be determined).
• Make at least one contribution to our online journal.
• Present their work-in-process at one of our LABA events which take place throughout the year.
• Check in periodically with the LABA Director about their work.
All applicants must apply to LABA with either a work-in-process or a concrete project idea connected to the theme of CHOSE-N. Our goal is to be informed and inspired by the study sessions, which, we have found, happens on a much deeper level when the fellows have a specific goal in mind.
Due to these unusual and ever shifting times, your project selection should also be based on its adaptability to new circumstances, virtual platforms or site specific settings.
LABA fellows receive a $1500 stipend and a small stipend (up to $250) for a LABA-focused presentation. In addition, artists receive creative and administrative support in various forms, such as fiscal sponsorship and fundraising strategies. Through the year of their fellowship, fellows have access to rehearsal space and workspace at the 14Y, including the theater.
Fellows also have the opportunity to work one-on-one and be mentored by LABA faculty.
Finally, LABA gives culture-makers a chance to create in an artistic community, where they will be able to engage in an ongoing conversation about the development of their work.
ABOUT SECOND STAGE
Part of LABA’s ongoing goal is to function as a hub for the development of new Jewish culture. Thus artists may have the opportunity to further the work developed through LABA after the completion of their fellowship year, pending budget and approval. (We call this the “second stage.”)
Past work from LABA fellows has continued on to the New Museum, The Tate Modern, BAM Next Wave, Off-Broadway theaters, and the 14th Street Y. Past works have been presented as gallery shows, full-scale dance productions, operas and more. While we cannot guarantee all fellows will move into a second stage, the artistic and production teams will work with you closely throughout the year to determine what the appropriate next steps are for the artist and LABA/14th Street Y.
Monday, November 16 at midnight. The LABA Director and a panel of artists and faculty will then review all eligible applications. Finalists will be contacted by the first week of December for interviews.